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Free lung health checks for Queensland quarry workers

 

Queensland’s quarrying and mineral mining workers will be given free lung health checks for life to protect them from dust-related lung diseases.

From 1 September, Queensland’s 15,000 mine and quarrying workers will be given free mandatory lung health checks to prevent exposure to deadly diseases such as respirable crystalline silica (RCS).

It will involve a chest X-Ray that is analysed by two radiologists, along with a lung function test. The service will also be available free of charge to people who have left the industry.

“Every Queensland worker has the right to safe working conditions and peace of mind,” Queensland Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said. “As a doctor I know that hand-in-hand with disease prevention goes early detection, because it helps stop disease progressing. And mandatory screening is critical for early detection.”

From 1 September, the tests will occur when a mine or quarry worker first starts in the industry and will be repeated at least once every five years . Free respiratory health checks will be offered to workers after they leave the industry or retire.

The Member for Townsville Scott Stewart said Queensland’s quarrying and mining workforce would benefit greatly from testing.

“Our mine workers make a massive contribution to Queensland’s economy, and particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic,” Stewart said.

“I know workers, and their families, will welcome these extra measures to protect their health on top of the many safety reforms the Palaszczuk Government has put in place.”

The Palaszczuk Government has introduced $35 million worth of health and safety reforms for Queensland’s quarrying and mining workforce, including a mobile health service that will provide lung checks by the end of 2020 and a confidential mine dust health support service to help the industry’s workers access health-related information and services.

Part of these reforms include the recent introduction of industrial manslaughter laws to jail senior officers whose negligent actions may have contributed to workplace deaths, and increased maximum penalties of up to $4 million for some offences. The regulator may also issue fines without having to go to court.

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